Sometimes, when two people share the tiniest smidgeon of DNA, I wonder whether it is simply coincidence that the name on my family tree happens to match one in the far reaches of the DNA match list. After all, now that I'm working on my mother-in-law's Snider line, looking for DNA matches means seeking descendants of my husband's fourth great-grandparents.
Then again, it also means searching for my husband's third great-grandparents. It all depends on which side of the family we're counting. Yep, pedigree collapse: some cousins register far closer than one would assume, and yet, others register at those tiny DNA counts which make wiser researchers shy away from even considering.
My research goal this month is to explore my mother-in-law's connections with Nicholas and Anna Eckhardt Schneider, who arrived in Perry County, Ohio, before 1820. Supposedly, they immigrated from somewhere in Germany. Like many of my mother-in-law's forebears, once they arrived in Ohio, the Schneiders—eventually morphing into the Sniders—seemed to fare quite well. At least that's how I interpret their thriving families.
Keeping up with these growing family lines over multiple generations has meant tracking a burgeoning list of names in my family tree database. And that has led to an increase in my husband's family tree in the past two weeks of 233 individuals, all related to the Snider lines in my mother-in-law's roots. No surprise, then, to see the entire tree adding up to 26,433 names.
This weekend, my goal was to look at Ancestry DNA's ThruLines readout for Nicholas Schneider. At the start of the weekend, that ancestor alone yielded 207 DNA matches for my husband—and by last night, that count had edged up by one more match. Considering the level of relationship, the range of connection reached from 388 centiMorgans down to a mere six, a count most researchers would hardly bother inspecting. And yet, when I follow adequate documentation, those cousins connected by less than ten centiMorgans still bear out on paper.
As I work my way through this list of 208 cousins, I make sure to label each one in my Ancestry.com tree as a DNA cousin, including the color-coded family groups I've already set up. I also follow through on Ancestry's survey system regarding each match's relationship: side of family (paternal or maternal) and level of relationship (fourth cousin twice removed, for instance). Hopefully, receiving that input from subscribers will result in helpful data for the scientists who fine-tuned this DNA service in the first place.
With my research focus shifted this month from my mother's line to that of my mother-in-law, my own tree has obviously languished. I did, however, manage to add 126 new names to my own maternal line as I wrapped up last month's McClellan research project. That tree now includes 28,165 names—and will obviously stay put at that level until an event prompts an update or I return to another research project involving that line later this year.
For now, though, I'll be working on updating these Snider DNA matches and recording them in the proper location in my mother-in-law's tree. On Monday, we'll begin taking a closer look at what I know, so far, about Nicholas and Anna after their arrival in Ohio.